Let Me Call You Sweetheart: Watertown Couple Celebrates 70th Anniversary
Bob Hering’s love for his wife Lois is evident. A little word like “love” doesn’t seem big enough to describe it. He shows her he loves her every chance he gets and could talk for hours about their life together. But Bob knows he could lose Lois at any moment.
“We thought she was going to die last August, but she kept going on and we kept getting closer and closer,” said Bob.
Lois has been on Rainbow Hospice Care’s services since May 2020 and lives at the Heritage Homes Memory Care unit in Watertown. Bob, isn’t too far away from her, residing in the independent living community at Heritage.
Their love story began more than 80 years ago. They met in Chicago when was they were in the sixth grade. A pastor and his family had moved into town and Bob went over to introduce himself. There he met Lois. They became friends and eventually fell in love and became high school sweethearts at the Luther Institute in Chicago.
“I asked her one day, would you mind doing some typing for me?” Bob said. “And she said, ‘No, I wouldn’t mind.’ ” That was probably the start of it all. She was just kind, honest, and straightforward.”
Bob earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Northern Illinois University in 1951. He credits his wife with helping him get his Master’s Degree in Vocational Guidance from Northwestern University.
“They never knew it but she was typing everything I sent them regarding my degree,” Bob said. “It was unbelievable. That degree was just as much hers as it was mine.”
They were married in 1951 at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church on the south side of Chicago and started a family in Naperville, Illinois. After about seven years, Bob’s job with Western Electric Company (which became AT&T) eventually took them to Oklahoma, where they continued to raise their family and live for over 50 years. After that they moved to the Lutheran Home Campus in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, where they resided for nearly a decade before coming to Wisconsin three years ago.
Bob and Lois on their wedding day.
Their love produced four children, Kathy, Tim, Tom, and John. Now the Hering family has grown to include 14 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren, with two more on the way. If you count spouses too, the Hering family will soon have a total of 55 people, all made possible by Bob and Lois, who set a great example for their children to follow.
“I think for us as kids to be able to witness their example consistently and clearly in how their lives were wrapped around their love for one another, their love for God, and love for us, that meant a lot and that really stuck with us throughout our lives,” said son, Tom Hering.
Bob’s job occasionally took him all over the United States, while Lois took care of the house and the children.
“It was difficult because I was away a lot and she was home a lot,” Bob said. “She used to say to me, ‘Honey, I can’t wait for you to be home!’ “
When Bob retired 30 years ago, they grew even closer.
“It was 30 years of bliss for us,” Bob said. “We got to know each other so much and at age 60 we were having a great time as husband and wife, which is unbelievable! Most people are breaking up by that time.”
Due to the pandemic, Bob wasn’t able to see Lois for nearly a year. But he was able to find other ways to express his love for her.
“I put a telephone in her room and we talked all the time,” Bob said. “I talked to her every night about the Lord and what he’s doing for us.”
Their strong faith in God and each other helped get them through that tough time.
“They are truly devoted to one another,” Tom said. “Their genuine care for each other was always obvious to us as we grew up. My dad would bring home gifts to my mom, and it didn’t have to be an anniversary or birthday. They really instilled joy in our family. It was not made up, it was real.”
Less than a month ago, Bob was finally able to have that long-awaited reunion with the love of his life.
“I missed kissing her,” Bob said. “When I saw her the first time, I must have kissed her I don’t know how many times. It was a lot!”
The couple was back together again to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on April 15. With visiting restrictions still in place at Heritage, the party was limited to just a few family members, but that didn’t make it any less special.
Back Row (Left to Right), John Hering, his wife June Hering, Becky Schroeder (granddaughter), Kathy Hering, and Tom Hering. Front Row (Left to Right), Bob and Lois Hering.
The Herings’ son John and his wife drove up from Dallas, Texas, while their son Tom came from Grafton and brought several cakes for staff and residents in the Memory Care unit. Tim, who lives in Oklahoma, was able to visit virtually with his parents and family that day using FaceTime.
Their daughter Kathy, who lives in the assisted living part of Heritage, was also able to be part of the festivities. The celebration was held in a spacious commons room where the Rainbow Hospice Care balloon bouquets served as a wonderful backdrop for the special occasion.
“I had heard about Bob and Lois’s great love from them and other family members, but it was an honor to witness that love firsthand,” Rainbow social worker Emily Marx. “The experience brought tears to my eyes and warmed my heart.”
Bob even paid a special tribute to Lois at the party by singing the song “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” (a song released in 1910 and later made famous by several music artists, including Bing Crosby and Patti Page). He also included some of their favorite church hymns they like to sing together.
After being separated for so long, it was a much-needed day for Bob and the family. They’re thankful for every minute they have left with Lois and the quality of care she continues to receive each day.
“We have nothing but thankfulness and gratitude for the excellent care, concern, compassion, and communication that Emily (Marx) and Jody (Goodle) at Rainbow and the wonderful staff at Heritage Homes have provided,” Tom said. “It’s just been terrific and we’re really thankful for that. They’ve consistently kept us in the loop and included us in their care decisions and virtual visits.”
Even though Lois has lived a long life, that won’t make it any easier for Bob, to say goodbye to her when the time comes. He reminds her repeatedly how comforting it is to know that they will be together in heaven one day. Their powerful love continues to inspire others and has withstood the test of time.
“She is such a wonderful woman,” Bob said. “We’ve had a wonderful time as a married couple. That’s the reason we’re together now because I missed her so much. And I still do. It’s an amazing life we’ve had.”